Review of Three Men on a Plane, a novel by Mavis Cheek.
This review is based on the paperback version of the novel, published by Faber & Faber, ISBN 978-0571225859, 272 pages, cover price £6.99.
Genre:- Modern fiction.
Pamela Pryor's son Daniel has left home. He has moved from London to Liverpool to live with his girlfriend. Pamela is at first overcome by feelings of rejection and dismay at her son's departure, but very soon begins to realise that she is now free, at the age of 48, to do as she chooses. She comes to terms with the fact she has a life of her own, which does not include her son.
Pamela has a successful interior design and soft furnishings business, friends and on the surface, a good life.
Pamela has had three significant men in her life - Peter, her ex-husband and the father of Daniel; Douglas, an ageing style guru; and Dean, a handsome, much younger man. As the plot unfolds, we learn that all Pamela's ex partners have begun to think of her in romantic terms once more.
Each man has his own emotional baggage and they all set out to win Pamela back, in one case aided and abetted from the confines of a private retirement home, by Pamela's elderly mother and her mother's comrade in arms, retired high class prostitute, Eileen.
But Pamela is enjoying her independence and wants to get to know herself again. When Daniel declines to return home for Christmas, Pamela is faced with a dilemma. Each of her ex partners has invited her to go to Dublin for the festive season.
Which of the three suitors will Pamela choose?
The answer can be found within the novel!
**About the Author**
Mavis Cheek was born and grew up in Wimbledon. She began her working life at a contemporary art publishers. After this, she attended Hillcroft College for Women from where she graduated in Arts.
She began writing after her daughter was born, first in journalism and travel writing, then short stories and finally in 1988 her first novel, 'Pause Between Acts' was published by Bodley Head. This novel won her the coveted She/John Menzies First Novel Prize.
She is the author of thirteen novels novels and now lives in the heart of the English countryside.
**My Thoughts and Conclusion**
Three Men on a Plane is a well written, very amusing glimpse into the life and loves of a middle aged woman. At first, I feared the book was going to be a slightly depressing tale of the empty nest syndrome, however after a couple of chapters, Ms Cheek's unique writing style and subtle humour drew out the character of Pamela Pryor, unfolding a story of gentle wit and a tongue in cheek look at ladies of a 'certain age'. Being a lady of a certain age myself, I found I could really identify with some of the situations the central character found herself in. Not that I have a gorgeous younger man loitering on my doorstep clutching pink champagne, chocolates and a potted African Violet, you understand, neither I hasten to add, am I seeking one!
The characters in Three Men on a Plane are remarkably well drawn, the dialogue is sharp, witty and crisply delivered. The conversations between Pamela's mother and her friend were truly laugh out loud stuff!
Pamela came over to me at first as a slightly downtrodden, insecure person. Her marriage had floundered when her ex husband's career overtook his family life.
Pamela had then made a rod for her own back by trying to be someone that she wasn't, when involved with Douglas. She had felt that Douglas wanted her to choose between their relationship and her son, something she could not even consider, as a result the she was a little emotionally scarred by this.
Her relationship with Dean had been one based on mild obsession on his part, although Pamela had not felt altogether comfortable dating a man only a few years older than her son.
Pamela had not been lucky in love, but rather than focussing on the downside of all these traumas, Ms Cheek has written about them in such a way, that the negatives became amusing.
The author has managed to mingle a little bit of almost everything into her novel. As we get to know her, Pamela comes over as a thoroughly modern woman and not a stereotypical mid-life crisis, anxiety ridden drudge, the way middle aged people can be portrayed in novels. Not Pamela, this middle-aged lady hankers for sex with her younger man, a bit of fun and a bit life!
I really enjoyed this book and I feel it is one that I will re-read in the future. I do appreciate Mavis Cheek's style of writing and although I have not always liked her novels, this one is a masterpiece in my opinion.
The plot fairly skips along and the story unfolds in a graceful and natural way, there are quite a few characters within the plot, but they all meld together well, never becoming confusing or over the top.
I would recommend this novel to others, although it is primarily aimed at women, I believe men would also enjoy it, given the humour and the way the author gently pokes fun at the vagaries of people in general. I definitely recommend this novel to others and am awarding it a well deserved 5* rating.
To conclude, I like to think of this novel as 'chick-lit for the more mature lady'!
Thank you for reading.
©brittle1906 August 2011
N.B. My reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name.